Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas;
Mon-Sun 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (Oct-Apr);
Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat-Sun 7 a.m.-7 p.m. (May-Sep);
Hardwicke Mon-Sat 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun noon-4:30 p.m.
Take North Loop 820, exit Highway 199 and turn right. Go four miles and exit Confederate Park Road. Turn right at the stop sign onto Buffalo Road. Turn right onto Fossil Ridge Road. A parking area is at the top of the hill. Follow the sidewalk to the Hardwicke Interpretive Center.
Adults $4, children $2, under 3 free. Memberships and annual passes available which provide free annual admission.
Fort Worth, Texas 76135
Web site: Fort Worth Nature Center
The Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge is 3600 acres of what the Dallas Fort Worth area used to look like. The wilderness area straddles two major ecological zones in Texas: the Grand Prairie and the Western Cross Timbers.
The Hardwicke Interpretive Center contains a gift shop, a bird-watching area (which attracts very young raccoons), various exhibits, such as animal tracks and an identification table for the kids, and a fairly large collection of live animals representative of what you might see at the nature center. Register for classes and events (like the Buffalo Boogie) here and pick up a map of the hiking trails, lists of local birds and mammals to watch for, and get recommendations from the staff. Restrooms and a water fountain are also here.
Picnic tables are at the parking lot near the Hardwicke Interpretive Center. Two pavilions--one on Greer Island and one on the Boardwalk--offer shade and a flat place to sit on, although no tables. Bring your own food as there is none sold at the park.
Twenty miles of hiking trails take you from hills down through prairies to wetlands and the West Fork of the Trinity River. Most are flat and easy walking; some have steep hillsides to walk up. None classify as difficult for experienced hikers, but a few may be hard on those with knee problems.
In the early spring, wild plums bloom and scent the air along with several other varieties of trees. Later in the spring, wildflowers, butterflies, and other colorful insects brighten the hikes.
Deer, quail, hawks, rabbits, and coyotes are common in the park. A buffalo herd and prairie dog town supplement the wildlife that wanders in. Several species of fish and turtles can be seen snapping at insects. In the summer, the dragonfly swarms are spectacular.